The Story

"Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo "

Lieut. Ted Lawson (Van Johnson) pilots his B-25 medium bomber over the tropical landscape of Northern Florida bound for Eglin Field. Others in the crew are Co-Pilot Dean Davenport (Tim Murdock), Navigator Charles McClure (Don DeFore), Bombadier Bob Clever (Gordon McDonald) and Gunner-Mechanic David Thatcher (Robert Walker). They are reporting for special volunteer assignments.

The next day the crew with 140 other volunteers jam into a small operations room to hear Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle (Spencer Tracy) explain that their training for the job will be done in secrecy. Capt "Ski" York (Paul Langton) then takes over, ordering the men up for an orientation flight.

As the ships are being readied, Ted gets word that someone is waiting to see him. It is his attractive wife of less than six months, Ellen (Phyllis Thaxter). After he has taken of Ted asks the crew if they've seen an undelivered letter from Ellen. Upon reading it he learns he's to be a father.

The volunteers are rigorously trained. The Norden bomb sights are removed from the ships. The squadron transfers to other fields where the crews practice short take-offs. During a kidding session one day Liet. "Shorty" March (John R. Reilly) unwittingly names Ted's plane when he exclaims, "That airplane of yours looked like a ruptured duck!"

The next day a ruptured duck is painted on the nose of Ted's ship.

The days are like a honeymoon for Ted and Ellen. They've been apart most of the time since their marriage. One morning at 3 a.m., however, Doolittle calls the men together. They take off forty-five minutes later.

Flying under the San Francisco Bay Bridge the crew of the Ruptured Duck sees a large aircraft carrier with three B-25s on its deck alongside a wharf. Later the Ruptured Duck is lifted onto the flight deck. That evening the carrier ships out of the harbor in the fog. In the morning Doolittle orders a meeting and when the flyers gather in the Hornet's readyroom, they learn what their mission is to be. they're going to bomb Japan!

Several days later the convoy runs into Japanese ships. The B-25's must take off immediately. Doolittle is first and the other Tokyo raiders follow.

Crossing the Japanese coast, Ted pilots the Rutured Duck over Tokyo. The bombs are dropped on their target. Speeding toward China, they hit a rain squall. There is little visibiblity but finally a rift in the clouds reveals a clean beach, wide enough for a landing. Then both motors cough and quit. With a tremendous roar the Ruptured Duck plunges into the sea.

Ted pulls hmself onto the beach. His face is battered, his left leg badly gashed. Thatcher is the only one uninjured. As the five gather on the beach serveral Chinese appear. Ted and the other are taken to a small hut.

In the cold rain of that evening Chinese guerrillas arrive and the long painful trek to Free China is started. All the wounded men suffer horribly. Finally they reach a small village. But the Japanese are close and they must push off immediatedly. Days later they reach Lin Hai where missionaries and Chinese doctors care for their wounds. An Army doctor with one of the other crews arrives and amputates Ted's leg to save his life. When Ted is strong enough, they continue the journey. Later they are flown to Amercia.

Doolittle, now a Brigadier General, is the first to call Ellen. Later Doolitttle visits Ted in a Washington, D.C. hospital. Ted begs the General not to tell Ellen what has happened. He wants to wait until he can walk and dance on a wooden leg. As Doolittle leaves, Ellen enters. Ted, forgetting he has only one leg, bounds from his chair and starts for her. He falls face downward at her feet. And Ellen sinks to the floor beside him tenderly cradling Ted's head in her arms.

Copyright M-G-M Studios


"Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo"

Cast and Crew